We thought it would be a good idea. We couldn't be sure but it turned out to be an excellent idea!
For 5 days Carin Green, Pia Sjöstedt and Eva-Lotta Backman joined me here in Wales to do lots of sea kayaking in the waters around Anglesey. We had never done something like this together before and some of us haven't even met before the evening I picked them up at the train station in Holyhead. Would we get along? Would we get the right paddling conditions for the week? Would we have to fight over what to buy for breakfast? Would we refuse to rescue someone because they've been snoring the night before? And would we be able to enjoy each others company? We had lots of questions and we were all very excited when we went to bed on the first night in Trearddur Bay.
The week turned out to be a perfect week. Apart from some headaches, a fever, a torned neck seal, some coughing, a soar elbow, a lost hatch cover in the night, a broken skeg, coffee all over the table, a handirack that almost damaged the roof of the rental car, some nose dripping and some confused questions about navigation. ;-)
I guess a word that describes the training days well is the word "varied". Every day Nick made sure we did something new. The week started with lots of strong winds, so we spend the first afternoon in Cemaes Bay as a warm up and before the lasagna was served that evening, we also took the time to do some tidal and navigation planning.
We spend the tuesday morning in the Swellies in the Menai Strait. Moving water skills was on the list and since we were on our way to springs, the tide was flowing quite fast under neath the bridge pillars of Menai Bridge. The rain and the strong winds didn't really bother us and with a chocolate break once in a while we managed to get the most out of the Straits that morning. We worked quite hard so in the afternoon it was only Nick and the Duracell Rabbit Eva-Lotta who went to Rhosneigr to do some surfing.
The following day was spent in the area around Port Dafach and Penrhyn Mawr. There wasn't a race at PM but at the next headland the ebb was creating a race. Now it was time for some rescue- and towing excersizes. Then we did a rocky landing, had lunch among the rocks and did some more rescues among the rocks. The sun came out and made everything less scary and after a small surf landing at Port Dafach we had to go home and do our home work. That was to figure out a plan for going to the Skerries the next day.
And what a plan we did! We ordered sunshine, lots of seals, a nice break on the island, an easy crossing and a gentle paddle towards Church Bay. Everything went our way that day! The Skerries is such a beautiful place to visit and the seals are so curious and the view from the light house is astonishing. When we landed in Church Bay, we went for the "must-eat" in Wales and England: Fish and Chips! Then we were all ready for a night paddle from Church Bay back to Cemlyn Bay. The full moon was guiding us and showed us the way. Except when we suddenly found our selves in a big pile in the tide race outside Carmel Head. But that's another story.
Friday came along quicker than we wanted it to and that was when I realized the neck seal on my drysuit was torn. I made the decision to stay on land that day to get it fixed and with the help from Pete at Summit to Sea in Valley, I got it repaired by the Rubberman Chris, the same day. While I was doing that, the others had a tumbling day at Penrhyn Mawr. The evening was spent around the dinner table, planning a crossing from Northern Ireland to Scottland, calculating tides and bearings.
When Satuday arrived, me, Carin and Pia had the day off from paddling. We went to Conwy Bay and then to Betws y Coed in the Snowdonia Mountains and did lots of exhausting shopping and ice cream eating while Eva-Lotta got through the first day on her 5* Assessment. On the Sunday, Pia had to go back to Sweden, so then me and Carin acted mock students for Eva-Lotta on her last day of the assessment. We behaved and so did Eva-Lotta and she is now the first female BCU 5* Leader in Finland. Well done!
I wish every week would be like this week. It's been so fun to have had the opportunity to do all this paddling with wonderful friends and we have all learned a lot. Both from Nick, but also from each other. I now wish this week could be like Christmas. That it will come back the same time next year. And the year after that. And the year after that...
The photos from the training week were all taken by Carin, Eva-Lotta, Pia and Nick, since I haven't replaced the camera that I lost in Denmark. Thank you for sharing your images with me. More photos can be found on my MobileMe Picture Gallery.
If you click the pictures, they will be presented in a lightbox.